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Telemedicine 101: What You Need to Know

Learn about a growing virtual healthcare system that has the potential to offer fast, inexpensive medical service.

| May/June 2019

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Photo by Getty Image/Halfpoint

Does skyping your doctor for your next appointment sound like a stretch? It might not be for long. Telemedicine is taking off, and its growing popularity has the potential to guide the future of healthcare in a completely new direction. Many people are wondering whether telemedicine is a solution for their needs, especially with its promise of faster and cheaper healthcare. Let’s look at what virtual health technology can provide, and evaluate the benefits and concerns of this expanding industry.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is broadly defined as any professional communication between a doctor and their patient when they aren’t in the same physical location. Through technology, such as cell phones and the internet, healthcare professionals can virtually evaluate, diagnose, and prescribe treatments to their patients. Many companies offer 24/7 access to doctors for professional medical advice, and some maintain contracts with specialists from around the world. Rural medical practices in particular can use telemedicine to receive outside counsel during emergencies, or reach more people in isolated areas.Thanks to smartphones, the barriers for using telemedicine are disappearing. This makes virtual healthcare a more feasible option in patients’ homes, assisted living facilities, and other locations where traditional medical care may be inconvenient. Today, the technology is used to diagnose ailments such as colds, skin rashes, allergies, asthma, mental illness, lower back pain, urinary tract infections, diabetes, and hypertension.

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Photo by Getty Images/artisteer



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